Bookcrossing: releasing books into the wild

Over at Memepunks they posted about Bookcrossing, which is the kind of web-based thing that really floats my book-junky/library-staff boat.To sum up, you grab an old favourite from your bookshelf and leave it in a public place, so someone can stumble across it and take it on a journey. Inside the book will be a label that gives the address for the Bookcrossing site, where you will have previously registered it along with the position you intended to leave it in. Then (theoretically) the new owner picks up and reads the book, logs onto the site to let you (and the community) know about it, and ideally sends the book on its way again. Your book gets to be like the Littlest Hobo…only made of paper. Ahem.

This is a great idea; our library did something similar a while ago (but on a smaller scale and with little success). There are some obvious flaws I can think of:

  • Relies on altruism of the common man, ie you have to hope the book gets picked up by a fellow book lover and not some chancer looking to sell it for 50 pence toward a can of super-cider. The web site holding locations should hopefully alleviate this problem, to a degree.
  • Many avid book-lovers would probably dread the thought of parting with their favourite books; I am certainly one of them, which means that I am a pawn of the ‘ownership society’ even while I rail against it. I might consider picking up a second hand version and sending it on a journey, though; rational thinking goes out of my window when it comes to my books. 😉

Other than those, however, it’s a good plan, and one that I will investigate more thoroughly when I get a spare half-hour (mostly to see if anyone else is doing it here in the UK). I shall also be mentioning it to my bosses at the library, as a potential ‘reader development’ resource or just a point of note. Any book-releasing by myself will certainly be mentioned here at VCTB. Anything that smacks remotely of evangelicism about decent reading material is definitely right in my back garden, so to speak.

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